A group of Michigan Tech students participated in an inaugural faculty-led study abroad trip to Germany over the summer. Ulrich Schmelzle, assistant professor of supply chain and operations management in the Michigan Tech College of Business, led a group of eight Huskies to his hometown of Hamburg. This once-in-a-lifetime tour will have a positive impact on students’ future careers, and will return as a study abroad option for summer 2023.
“One of the objectives of the Germany experience is to prepare students for careers in a globalized and interconnected business environment,” says Schmelzle, who has two decades of international industry experience in semiconductor and aerospace fields. Increasingly, recruiters emphasize the need for students to develop intercultural skills and awareness about different business etiquette when dealing with business partners across the globe.
Hunter Austin, a second year engineering management student wrote home to tell us about his first few weeks studying abroad in Valencia, Spain!
“Studying abroad offers so many advantages. For myself, as an Engineering Management major it allows me to learn another language and become familiar with another part of the world. These attributes are ones that employers love to look for in applicants. In addition, I choose a program, which allows me to continue to take classes in my chosen field so as to not fall behind on my degree. Those things aside, being a college student is about so much more than just getting a degree and a job. It’s about becoming a better person who’s compassionate, analytical and has the tools to contribute to society in a positive way. I try to strive towards this everyday and I believe Michigan Tech does an amazing job of preparing us for our future. We pride ourselves on being analytical and you can see through our alumni just how much of a difference we make in the world. However, often college students in the United States never make it out of the country during their studies. This is a big disadvantage being that we don’t have the luxury of being able to travel and see multiple cultures just hours away. In the context of our globalized world this make studying abroad undeniably crucial. Going abroad opens your perspective to cultures you’ve never made contact with in your life before. I know that in just the short while I’ve been in Valencia, Spain I’ve learned so much about Spaniards, about Europe, and about just how connected we all are as a human race. I’ve gained so much since my first day here and everyday is a new experience and challenge. The people I’ve met and the places I’ve gone, I know I’ll never forget. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to study abroad as it could be the most important experience you have in all of college.
Also, if that didn’t convince you the food is utterly amazing here!!!”
Hunter representing Michigan Tech will visiting Xativa, a small city outside of Valenica.
Why did you study abroad?
Studying abroad allowed me to see how economics and finance courses are taught from a European perspective. Also, to take classes with foreign professors and students gives you a large networking advantage, as well as the chance to work in multicultural teams, all of which are invaluable experiences for graduate school, as well as later in life. All too often, it seems that economics has the potential of being taught from a politically skewed or nationalistic point of view,so understanding how Germans view different economic theories or events like the European Sovereign Debt Crisis was appealing.
What did you experience?
The first part of the program was a course on German language,culture, and business, which is designed to not only give the US students a working vocabulary and knowledge of German language and grammar, but also to provide insight to German culture and political institutions. Students present on a variety of topics and have to write a paper by the end of the program. I presented on “The German Banking Sector” and “The German Social Security System.”So far, the difference has been that homework and projects aren’t that big in German education. It’s all about the exam grade. In fact, for university classes, you don’t actually register for them here, you just attend the lectures you want, memorize the note packet the professor sends out, and you register for exams and take them. Nothing else is graded.
What was the best part of your trip?
The best part of the trip is simply being in Europe and being able to travel around and experience the culture. So far, we’ve been to Hannover, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Luneburg. With travel plans to Rotenburg, Munich, Heidelberg, and Helsinki the capital of the land of my ancestry in Finland.
Would you study abroad again? Would you go somewhere new or to the same location?
Study abroad is an invaluable experience in many ways: academically,professionally, personally, and socially. You learn of new ideas, new ways of doing things, and meet tons of people you’d otherwise never have known. I definitely would do it again, given the opportunity. Germany is a great place, and I’m sure I’ll return someday, perhaps for work—I’d definitely need to learn more German first—but for sure for vacation some day. But in order to see other places around the globe, I’d probably want to check out somewhere new!
“I wanted to go abroad because I haven’t completed an internship and I’m entering my senior year at Michigan Tech,” said Operations and Systems Management major Kathryn Danielson. “I wanted something that would look good on my resume.”
With an increasingly tough job market, students are encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity offered to gain an edge on the competition. As a business major understanding the global market can set you apart from other applicants when applying for jobs. Danielson did just that by taking courses in Bilbao, Spain during the summer of 2012.
“I took international management and did a field study in Madrid for a week. My class was even smaller than the classes I have had at Tech and they were very hands-on,” she added. “Our professor took us to a lot of businesses in Spain to see how they managed their business and what daily functions they fulfilled. We also attended an entrepreneurship convention in Spain that provided insight on how people may start businesses in Spain.”
Being from the Upper Peninsula, Kathryn admitted that the best part of her trip was meeting the people from a culture different from her own, shopping in the streets, and attending a rave. See the youtube clip below from the night she saw popular DJ Steve Aoki perform (watch a video of the Bilboa performance!)!
Given the opportunity, she says she would absolutely study abroad again and might try to make one more trip back to Spain to visit friends who are still there, as well as the locals she befriended while studying.
Earn a Global Business Minor
The School of Business has added a new Global Business Minor for students who are interested in traveling the world and earning college credit! It is available to all Michigan Tech students and can be especially beneficial for students considering the Peace Corps or graduate school after graduation. For more information, please visit Global Business Minor at Michigan Tech.